LIVE NIRVANA SESSIONS HISTORY April, 1991 - 3rd Encore, Burbank, CA, US View in Google Maps

    • Cobain, Kurt (vocals, guitar)
    • Grohl, Dave (drums)
    • Novoselic, Krist (bass)
  • Vig, Butch (engineer)
  • [?] Smells Like Teen Spirit
  • [?] others?

It is not known whether these rehearsals were recorded, no tapes have surfaced to date.

Before entering Sound City to record Nevermind, the band spent a few days rehearsing at 3rd Encore with Butch Vig. (1)

The first thing NIRVANA played was Smells Like Teen Spirit, and I was just completely floored, remembers Vig. It sounded huge and crushing loud. I just was pacing around 'cause it sounded so fuckin' cool. I was like, Play it again, play it again. I made them play it like three or four times, and I went, Wow, this is really, really good. I knew at that point that just the power of them playing together was like a hundred times what it was when they had come to the Smart session, and a lot of that was because of Dave. (2)

Kurt had called me up and said, I've got the best drummer in the world! remembers Vig. I thought, Yeah, right. I've heard that one before. But the first time we went in that rehearsal space and started running through the songs, it was just amazing. Dave was incredibly powerful and dead on the groove. I could tell from the way Kurt and Krist were playing with him that they had definitely kicked their music up another notch, in terms of intensity. (3)

Krist and Kurt both had their amps cranked, Vig recalls. Dave didn't have any mics on his drums and his drums were louder than their amps. He hit the drums so hard, I was like, holy shit, this guy is really fucking strong! (4)

Vig was careful not to work the band too hard. Frankly, I didn't want to beat the songs into the ground. I just wanted to hear the arrangements and maybe tighten things up a little bit, he explains. (3) There wasn't much that needed to be done with [Smells Like Teen Spirit]. I think we did a little arranging. At the end of each chorus, there's a little ad lib thing Kurt did with the guitar. Originally that only happened at the end of the song; he did it a whole bunch of times. I suggested moving that up in to each chorus and cutting the choruses down a little bit. Just some minor tweaking of the arrangements. (3)

Though the band worked steadily and purposefully, things did get a bit unsettled towards the end of rehearsals when they were kept waiting around by DGC A&R man, Gary Gersh. In the big room next to where we were, Lenny Kravitz was rehearsing for a tour, says Vig, setting the scene. On the third or fourth day of rehearsals, Gary Gersh was supposed to come by at a certain time. A couple hours went by, and the band didn't want to just play, so Krist went out and got a bottle of Jack Daniel's and drank. Then he went into the office and got on the intercom: Paging Lenny Kravitz! I think he started going off: Where's Gary Gersh, that fuckin'-ass record company…—you know, that kind of thing. And I had to run down there and persuade him, Okay, maybe we should go back in. Let's go and talk about your bass sound. (2)

  1. Vig, Butch, 2013. Personal communication with Alex Roberts.
  2. Yarm, Mark, 2011. Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge. Crown Archetype.
  3. diPerna, Alan, 1996. Nirvana: The Making Of Nevermind, Guitar World, [online] Available at:
  4. Gaar, Gillian G., 2009. The Rough Guide To Nirvana. Rough Guides.

© Alex Roberts. April 27, 2013